To revolutionise means to completely reconstruct, and it is precisely that – a revolution – that the much maligned and misunderstood PR industry, notorious for the poor management of its own image, desperately needs.
One consultancy believes it has the track record and credentials to break ranks with the rest – repositioning itself in a whole new category: not a PR agency, not just strategic communications consultants, not an advertising and brand agency but one which, through the addition of market intelligence and via the full harnessing of technology, is able to provide complete 360 degree communication solutions.
Ruth Golembo, managing director of the recently re-positioned ‘Lange 360’ explains.
“Lange has been in business for the past 25 years. We are not the biggest in the industry and never plan to be. As top mid-sized consultancy we strongly believe that we have both the depth of experience gained over the past decades and the breadth of understanding and insight to be true revolutionaries for our industry.
“The changing world – in which corporate and brand reputations can only be built on a platform of open, honest and transparent communication – has prompted new levels of insight and intelligence on our part. In addition, we have made a conscious effort over the past few years to embrace digital and social media, alongside the traditional media, to the huge benefit of our clients. Against this background we decided it was time for our brand to evolve, to better reflect our unique approach.
“The core part of communications and public relations is not only about getting the right message to the right target audience, but about the recipient ‘hearing’ you and believing the message and taking the desired action. The ‘new normal’ in communications requires that the message should be authentic and sincere and actively promote talk back.”
The secret to Lange 360’s success, says Golembo, is its deliberate policy of employing people from an eclectic range of disciplines – law, journalism, business, economics, marketing, PR, the arts and IT – and utilising the specific skills of each in an area where the person feels most passionate.
“It is precisely because our people have such a wide range of interests, experience and understanding of the business world that we are able to offer solutions across the full PR and communication spectrum.
“Whatever the need, however, we always work towards a strategic objective – even where we are simply required to draft copy, manage an event or forward a news statement.
“As a result most of our clients – many of them leading names and ‘best of breed’ companies in the industries they represent – have retained our services for well over 5 years. Thus, for example, top petroleum company BP has retained Lange for the past 11 years continuously and Johnnie Walker, the top selling premium scotch in the world, has retained Lange for 18 years continuously,” she says.
Golembo – herself a law graduate turned finance journalist turned businesswoman – heads up the Media and Investor Relations division in the company. It is one of four ‘Centres of Excellence’ that underpin the Lange 360 philosophy of combining a depth of understanding with a full range of services. The other Centres of Excellence are Consumer Engagement, Business to Business Activation and PR, and Communication Strategy. In addition, the company supports a fifth pillar, called ‘Lange Outreach’, which houses its diverse social outreach and industry education initiatives.
The Communication Strategy centre of excellence is responsible for promoting holistic PR and communication solutions that contribute directly to the achievement of clients’ business objectives. The Division is headed up by Glenn Bryant and offers a full research capability as well as business coaching, tailored individual and group training courses and applied communication strategies.
Golembo says that the proper role of PR and communication is to build the trust and credibility of corporate brands and reputations.
“Along with greater accessibility to information in a more open society comes the increasing need for trust on the part of consumers and business clients. This has led to a growing demand for reputation management, which has significantly influenced the nature of the services that communications experts are expected to provide.
“The role of PR and communications’ consultants is not only to manage perception and image, but increasingly to manage the ‘culture’ of client companies and the credibility of their brands, and this is why the industry has never been more centre stage than now,” she says.